Dear Brother/ Sister,
Ill Health retirement under the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes
All members should by now be aware of the concerns the union has raised about the attack on our pension rights as a result of Government guidance on ill-health retirements. The details have been covered in my recent circular (2007HOC0510MW) and the effects on individuals have been reported in detail in the October 2007 issue of Firefighter magazine. In addition brigade secretaries have been provided with further information to assist in briefing branch officials. Information on this issue will now be placed on a special section on the union’s website.
I have recently written to the Government Ministers responsible for the Fire and Rescue Service and for fire service pensions outlining our concerns and pointing out that this matter could be resolved easily by a return to the guidance on pensions issued by the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) in 2004. The same points have been raised in recent meetings with government officials from CLG. I have also written to all Chief Fire Officers outlining our concerns and seeking support for the union’s position on this issue.
It is unfortunate and entirely avoidable that the service has once again come to the point where we may be forced to consider industrial action. However, the FBU cannot sit by and allow retired members or members facing retirement to have their pension rights stolen. We cannot allow members to be sacked for being physically incapable of doing their job. Therefore the Executive Council is asking all branches to consider the model resolution attached to this circular.
Resolution on Ill-health retirements within the Firefighters Pension Schemes
The Fire Brigades Union condemns the decision to cease the payment of pension to three retired members of the FBU following a medical appeal. This act has placed these individuals in the position of being without a job and without a pension.
This decision results from guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government in relation to the Firefighters Pensions Schemes which differs from that provided in 2004. This newer guidance means that members will not be retired if they are deemed able to fulfill any part of the duties within the role map – even if such a job does not exist. This will ultimately lead to large numbers of Firefighter being placed in the position of being unable to work because of ill-health or injury but unable to receive a pension. This is completely unacceptable.
These pension schemes are designed to take account of the physical demands of work in the Fire and Rescue Service and as a result members of the scheme pay a contribution higher than is paid in most other similar schemes. Yet the new advice from the government will mean that it will become impossible to actually receive a medical retirement in virtually any circumstances.
We call upon the Executive Council to prevail upon the Ministers within CLG to ensure that the current advice is amended in line with that originally provided in 2004. This should be a relatively simple step to take. If this is not done, we call upon the Executive Council to initiate a political campaign aimed at highlighting this disgrace and an industrial campaign aimed at bringing such an amendment into being.